Welcome to my zone 9a habitat garden near Houston, Texas.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Empty nests and new life

Just look at my lovely hanging basket!

Well, once upon a time, a few weeks ago, it was lovely. I bought it at Lowe's in the spring to hang on the hook outside my den window. It was already planted with petunias, calibrachoas, and verbena and it made a nicely colorful show during late spring and early summer. Then the Carolina Wrens moved in.

One of the audacious pair perches nearby. Male? Female? Hard to tell with wrens.

They moved in and built one of their nice little oven-shaped nests and proceeded to start their family. And I stopped watering the plant. Oh, I would carefully pour a cup or two of water in occasionally, and when it rained, I'm sure the planter got a little water, although the roof gutter carried most of it away. But essentially, for the last three weeks or so, the planter has been without water.

All that changed on Sunday. The two fuzzy little stubby-tailed babies who had started life there hopped out of the nest and perched on the edge of planter for a few minutes and then flew away to begin their lives as fully-fledged wrens.

Early yesterday morning, I took the planter down and determined that there was still a little life among the plants there. Having faithfully served as the incubator and crib for new life, I decided that these plants now deserved a chance at a renewed life of their own. I removed the wren's nest, cut out the dead plant parts, pruned everything back and thoroughly watered the pot with some fertilizer mixed in with the water. Then I hung it on one of the limbs of the magnolia tree where it will get dappled shade/sun and will not have to contend with the broiling mid-day sun that it got in its former placement. The rest is up to Mother Nature. Perhaps the plants can come back - if only those darned wrens don't decide to nest there again!

Meantime, in other parts of the garden yesterday...

I was working on the south side of the backyard in the area where the bluebird box is located. Whenever I work there, one or both of the bluebirds keep a close eye on my movements.

Yesterday, it was mostly Mom who was on guard duty. She would perch on the utility wire just above their nestbox and cast a beady and suspicious eye my way.

I was pulling weeds and grass from the beds on that side of the yard. It is amazing how fast these things grow when they get just a little rain. It had not been that long since I weeded there, but the beds were full of things that shouldn't have been there. I ended the day with a large pile of greenery for the compost.

Looking up from my weeding on one occasion, I was happy to see this guy, a Gulf Fritillary larva. This passionvine was just added to the bed a couple of weeks ago. It sure didn't take the butterflies long to find it. (By the way, that ferny green growth in the background is from my nearby asparagus bed.)

In the bed adjacent to the passionvine, I happened to notice these two little skippers on a fading mistflower. I think I probably disturbed them when they were just getting friendly with each other, so we'll just draw the curtain here and let them get on with it! After all, my yard can always use a few more cute little skippers.